Preparing students for the future through competency-based assessment

Entrance examinations to prestigious institutes in India have started adopting a competency-based approach. The NDA exam by UPSC, Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), IIT Entrance tests, NEET, and international tests like the SAT and ACT all use questions that measure a student’s Higher Order Thinking Skills. A few examples are shown below.


Sample question from NDA entrance test:


Elephants spray water over their ears to stay cool. The rhythm of an elephant day is set largely by its watering routine. An adult needs about thirty gallons of water a day when water is abundant there is no problem but during droughts, elephants resort to an intriguing technique: digging wells. In a dried-up river bed they scoop out holes with their forecast until they reach water after waiting patiently for the sand to settle they drink in order of seniority, calves last.


Q-1. According to the passage, water is

  • quite important for elephant
  • vital for elephant survival
  • occasionally useful for the elephant
  • often a problem for elephant


Q-2. When the elephants find water

  • the baby elephants drink first
  • the oldest adult drinks first
  • the largest elephant drinks first
  • the youngest adult drinks first



Sample from CLAT, which tests the legal aptitude of a Class XII student:


Facts:'M' appointed 'D' exclusively for the purpose of driving his tourist vehicle 'M' also appointed 'C' exclusively for the purpose of performing the work of a conductor for the tourist vehicle. During one trip, at the end of the journey, 'C' while 'D' was not on the driver’s seat and apparently for the purpose of turning the vehicle in the right direction for the next journey drove it through the street at high speed and negligently injured 'P'.


  • 'M' could be made liable for the act of 'C' as has his (C's) act of driving the vehicle was within his scope of employment
  • 'M' is not liable as he was not present at the time of the accident
  • 'M' could not be made liable for the act of 'C' as has his (C's) act of driving the vehicle was not in the scope of employment
  • 'M' could be made liable for the act of 'C' as 'C' was employed under a contract service



It can be seen from these examples that rote learning and memorization will not help in finding the solution to a competency-based question.